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A New York Couple Who Saw Their Cupcake Empire Soar to a $66 Million Business Before Going Bust Say There's Never Been a Moment of Regret Selling the Business — and Wouldn't Write Off Doing it Again When Jason and Mia Bauer sold Crumbs Bake Shop in 2011, they thought they were leaving it in good hands.

By Huileng Tan

Key Takeaways

  • The couple behind Crumbs Bake Shop said they don't regret selling it even though it eventually failed.
  • Crumbs got so big, it was acquired by a holdings company for $66 million and went public in June 2011.
  • The couple bought the Crumbs brand back again seven years after it went bankrupt.
Crumbs Original Bake Shop via Business Insider
Jason and Mia Bauer of Original Crumbs Bakeshop.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

When Jason and Mia Bauer sold their iconic Crumbs Bake Shop in 2011, they thought they were leaving it in good hands.

But two years later, the cupcake empire started to crumble, and eventually, Crumbs announced in July 2014 that it was closing all its stores and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

It was a sharp reversal for the New York-based cupcake shop that started in 2003 with a single store in Manhattan's Upper West Side but went on to spawn a Y2K fad that spread around the globe.

The chain offered over 75 flavors of cupcakes with unique toppings — such as a Girls Scouts Thin Mints option.

Crumbs was eventually acquired by a holdings company for $66 million through cash and stock. The company went public in June 2011.

But Crumbs — which spawned 70 stores in 2013 — was too aggressive with its expansion plans. The breakneck speed of growth and steep competition from other desserts ultimately toppled the empire.

crumbs

A Crumbs Cupcake shop before the chain went under. Gus Lubin / Business Insider

"We watched from the sidelines as the business suffered," Jason told Insider.

While the couple was disappointed the new team was unable to take Crumbs to a higher level, "I don't think there's ever been a moment of regret," Mia told Insider.

"It was still very much our baby. We gave birth to this business. We grew it. We were very attached to it, and to see it go away after all of our hard work wasn't fun," Jason added.

The Bauers, who described themselves as spiritual people, also "believe that things happen for a reason, so we moved on," said Jason.

The Bauers declined to reveal how exactly much they received from the sale.

After Crumb's collapse, Jason started a real estate brokerage that he operated for three years. He then went on to work a corporate job at WeWork where he was the global head of space services. While he did that, Mia raised the kids.

Jason said he enjoyed his WeWork stint, but their cupcake business was always at the back of the couple's minds.

The Bauers revived the Crumbs brand by chance, and it cost all of $350

Crumbs came back to the fore of Jason's mind again around 2019, when WeWork started imploding amid intense scrutiny of its finances and leadership after the work-sharing space filed for an IPO in August.

But it was only during a random search on the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2021 that he found that Crumbs' IP had been abandoned. He then applied to take over the "Original Crumbs Bakeshop" brand in February 2021 for $350, according to a filing from the US Patent and Trademark Office.

They were lucky this time. Jason said they tried to buy the Crumbs brand from Fischer Enterprises earlier when the investment firm held the brand's intellectual property — but they were unsuccessful.

Insider was unable to independently verify the previous purchase offer.

Jason said he still enjoyed his job at WeWork at the time, so he didn't pursue the issue or plan any fundraisers to buy the brand back. "I also felt like, you know, it was expensive right for just an IP," he added.

But as fate would have it, the Bauers managed to acquire the brand a few years down the road.

"The opportunity came back to us, it was meant to be," he said. Jason eventually left WeWork in 2021.

Now, he is running Crumbs with Mia again.

Other than cupcakes, Crumbs has expanded its range to include cookies.

The business is now funded by the Bauers, as well as a round of funding from friends and family. It has also just closed one round of seed funding, said Jason. He declined to elaborate more on the fundraising.

Despite their previous experience, Bauers are not writing off selling their business again.

"Whether we sell it, whether we take it public, whether we continue to build it, we're in it to build the brand," said Jason of revived brand the couple describe as being in its "infancy."

"It could really go in a million different directions," Mia added.

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